I have seen Pathfinder question about that: Can Bards attack while Performing? But my problem is D&D 3.5 related.

In D&D general text states:

Starting a bardic music effect is a standard action. Some bardic music abilities require concentration, which means the bard must take a standard action each round to maintain the ability.

However, Inspire Courage does not state either way:

Inspire Courage (Su)

A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poetics to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to hear the bard sing. The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 8th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 1 (+2 at 8th, +3 at 14th, and +4 at 20th). Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability.

So can I maintain Inspire Courage and still shoot my bow or throw acid bottles at our enemies? I'm pretty sure I would agree either way, whatever our DM would decide, I just want to know which way it should be by the rules.

Just a note, I use recitations ("poetics", by the RAW), so my character have his hands free, no instrument needed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that Song of the White Raven from Tome of Battle can be used to start a song as a swift action, rather than standard. So you don’t even lose that first round. For if you wanted to be serious about your attacking while singing. Doesn’t require multiclassing, but a level in crusader or warblade help you meet the requirements much more easily and will give you a lot more attack options. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thanks. Nice hint. But to be honest, I'm mostly useless as attacker anyway. I just wanted something to do in my rounds except "still reciting" ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, why downvote? And why now, after all these years? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


Yes, by RAW you can.

As per SRD, while starting bardic music is always a standard action, maintaining it is another story. Bardic music abilities requiring concentration to maintain explicitly say so, for example (emphasis mine),

Inspire Competence (Su)

A bard of 3rd level or higher with 6 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task. The ally must be within 30 feet and able to see and hear the bard. The bard must also be able to see the ally.

The ally gets a +2 competence bonus on skill checks with a particular skill as long as he or she continues to hear the bard’s music. Certain uses of this ability are infeasible. The effect lasts as long as the bard concentrates, up to a maximum of 2 minutes. A bard can’t inspire competence in himself. Inspire competence is a mind-affecting ability.

Therefore, whether you can do something meaningful while maintaining Inspire Courage is up to the interpretation of the duration clause (why don't you just resort to these 5 rounds, or 1 minute?).

The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter.

The description of the perform skill does not shed any light at this problem either (emphasis mine):

Action Varies. Trying to earn money by playing in public requires anywhere from an evening’s work to a full day’s performance. The bard’s special Perform-based abilities are described in that class’s description.

To sum up,

there is no action stated in the rules to maintain the Inspire Courage, so we can assume it is a free action. Therefore you're free to do whatever you want while singing (reciting, in your case), as long as you have requisite numbers of hands free (you probably do) and it is not prohibited by bardic music rules explicitly (cast spells, activate magic items by spell completion (such as scrolls), spell trigger (such as wands), or command word).

As a note,

the concentration on the bardic music is akin to the concentration on a spell; it even prohibits other casting. You could ask your DM if Extraordinary Concentration could be applied to the bardic music, too. Swift Concentration could also be useful for you, since it is already applicable.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note about concentration is for competence, right? Not needed for courage? Or am I missing / messing something? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 9:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Molot exactly. Courage as written doesn't need concentration. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 9:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, thanks, now it's more clear to me. My first time playing Bard, and it proves to be more challenging than playing other casters, in some ways :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 9:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It’s probably worth explicitly mentioning that it takes a standard action to start Inspire Courage. It’s not strictly under question here, but I feel like this answer might mislead someone unfamiliar with the rules and who doesn’t read it closely, so I think calling it out is a good idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 13:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan it is even mentioned in the quote in the question itself, but I agree, it's best to reiterate just in case. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 14:27

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